New Confederation of Independent Unions to hold action on May 1, present list of demands

18 Apr, 2023

The New Confederation of Independent Unions will hold an action at the Ministry of Labor and Health on May 1 and present a list of demands to mark International Workers’ Day.

According to a statement by the Confederation, working people in Georgia are still undervalued. Moreover, the government refuses to acknowledge independent trade unions as social partners, despite the important work being done by these groups.

The only trade union that currently holds official “social partner” status with the government is the non-democratic Georgian Trade Unions Confederation (GTUC), headed by Irakli Petriashvili. This means that other trade unions are shut out of important decision-making bodies related to labor policy, including the Tripartite Social Partnership Commission.

“The minimum wage in the country is still 20 GEL per month,” the statement reads. “There are professions where, despite employees working 48 hours per week, companies pay less than the monthly subsistence wage (e.g., sanitary workers who are paid 147 GEL per month). Following a long struggle by our trade union, the government took a first step forward and implemented a minimum wage for some nurses and doctors, but this is not enough. A higher minimum wage needs to be extended to all professions in Georgia.”

The statement also notes that the working conditions of many employees do not meet minimum standards.

“In a number of companies and state institutions, the rights of employees are significantly restricted. There is restriction of trade union activity, discrimination, collective dismissals and restriction of professional activities of dismissed workers – a clear example of which is the current situation for culture and science workers,” the statement reads.

The New Confederation demands the following:

1. The state should implement a real living wage* standard to replace the outdated methodology of calculating the so-called “subsistence wage,” which does not meet the needs of the population.

2. The state should implement a decent minimum wage for employees in all fields. The current minimum wage of 20 GEL per month adopted 24 years ago is alarmingly inappropriate.

3. The New Confederation of Independent Unions should be admitted as a member of the Tripartite Commission. There should be no discrimination against our Confederation by the government or GTUC.

Our Confederation unites trade unions that are not members of GTUC. We bring together people working in health care, social services, transport, science, culture, education, retail and finance. It is unacceptable to ignore these employees and their struggle. The New Confederation and its members have extensive experience in protecting the interests of employees, including signing collective agreements, drafting laws, litigating and organizing strikes. We are committed to working towards socio-economic and democratic progress in Georgia, and it is time for the government to recognize this by giving us a seat at the tripartite table.

This statement is endorsed by:

  • Trade Union of Healthcare and Service Sectors – “Solidarity Network”
  • Tbilisi Metropolitan Independent Trade Union – “Ertoba 2013”
  • Trade Union of Metro Plus Employees – Union of Cashiers and Chief Cashiers
  • Union of Social Workers
  • Trade Union of Science, Education and Culture

*Living wage refers to a standard of remuneration which provides “at least basic but decent living conditions, appropriate at a society’s current level of economic development.” Workers and their families must live above the poverty line and be able to participate in social and cultural life.

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